System and Process Assessment Research (SPAR) Lab

The SPAR Lab was originated in 2014 as a result of extensive research collaborations over the last 15 years among the departments of civil engineering, electrical engineering, material science and engineering, computer science and chemistry. Directed by Dr. Genda Chen, professor and Robert W. Abbett Distinguished Chair in Civil Engineering, the SPAR Lab provides capability of exploring both scientifically intriguing and pragmatically challenging solutions to aging infrastructure problems, supporting conceptualization, development, experimentation and implementation of key measurement technologies.  The lab pioneers the “lab-on-sensor” concept and unique calibration of sensors to address a multitude of assessment and maintenance issues we face today both nationally and internationally.

It features the following specialized equipment:

  • A distributed optical fiber sensing system (up to 25 km long) that was first made commercially available in 2011
  • A complete process of optical fiber sensor innovation, fabrication, calibration, analysis and application
  • A fully integrated loading/sensing or corrosion/sensing calibration system
  • Multiple measurement devices (acoustic, electromagnetic, magnetic, magneto-inductive, optical, photonic, radar, etc.) for a complete assessment of structural behaviors, including cracking, yielding, buckling, fatigue, corrosion and scour, that are particularly applicable in bridges, roads, pipelines, offshore platforms, nuclear reactors and other large-scale civil infrastructure
  • A microtest device to study the microstructure of materials and structures under loading and thermal conditions